Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New poetry for Earth Day

It’s Earth Day and everyone is going green! It’s nice to see this become a “trend,” but I hope we can translate our current fascination into real, lasting action. In honor of the day, I would like to feature a new poetry collection with a focus on the Florida Everglades. It’s The Seldom-Ever-Shady Everglades; Poems and Quilts by Sue Van Wassenhove (Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press). It’s a dynamic picture book poem collection with 17 poems set in the Florida Everglades and accompanied by quilts created by the poet with rich colors and textures. The poems focus primarily on the birds native to this setting, including several different kinds of heron, the cormorant, egret, mockingbird, and anhinga, with brief informational captions provided. The poems themselves are rich in information, too, with facts incorporated into rhyming and rhythmic verses. My favorite? The “Professor Heron,” of course!

Professor Heron
by Sue Van Wassenhove

Our Professor,

the great blue.

That black, slicked-back hairpiece

and subtle, mottled cravat

hide his bony neck.

A dusty, gray tweed jacket

with rusty academic shoulders and elbows

tops long, lock-kneed legs

and polished wing tips.

But his yellow-eyed stare

and gripped, tight-lipped silence

can outwait


squirming indignities

we try to submerge.

From: Van Wassenhove, Sue. 2008. The Seldom-Ever-Shady Everglades; Poems and Quilts. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press, p. 12

Sue’s Web site reveals more about her influences and interests, including a talent for making Ukranian Easter eggs, Swiss paper cuttings, and designing beadwork. Her eye for detail and line shows itself in her quilt illustrations, too. In her presentations, she can address the topic of poetry writing, or the Everglades, or the art of turning photographs into quilts. Such diversity!

And for more on the habitat of the Everglades check out the national park Web site. Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. The area boasts rare and endangered species, such as the American crocodile, Florida panther, and West Indian manatee. It has been designated an International Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site, and a Wetland of International Importance, in recognition of its significance to all the people of the world.

Happy Earth Day!

Picture credit: Amazon

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